Momma Told Me: Holiday Gherkins, Homemade SugarCubes, and Instant Ornaments

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Holiday Gherkins, Homemade SugarCubes, and Instant Ornaments

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Momma Told Me: I need my liquid motivation.

The holidays are exhausting.

It's okay, you can say it.

Anything awesome usually takes a bit of effort, and this season is one giant example. From the sparkling eyes of bushy tailed children on December 25th, to the good eats and great memories created among beloved family and friends. I begin holiday shopping in January, hit the 'test' kitchen around March, and host several small local events leading up to the season to help hone my plan of attack for the upcoming month. There are nights I crawl into bed with cocoa shellacked to my hairline and industrial sized rolls of wrapping paper as makeshift carpeting. And I'd be half the holiday powerhouse of a woman I am if it weren't for my bottomless tumbler of liquid motivation.
Now through January 4, 2016, buy 3 qualifying Starbucks products and get a $5 Starbucks Card e-gift FREE! http://cbi.as/14chh (ad)
Growing up, Momma was always a bit of a grinch- There, I said it. But she, self admittedly, does not care for the energy and hassle that comes with entertaining in-laws and meticulously planning outdoor light shows. It's ironic, really, because she DOES love the chance to wake up at 2 AM on Black Friday and the day after Christmas to comb through sales and buy seasonal decor at massive discounts. It was a running joke in our household that Momma must have loved the holidays because it was one of the few times she really got to put my father to work. Every December 26th Momma and I would return home from 'after holiday' closeouts with a car chocked full of last season's merriment. And every November Momma would furrow her brown and throw her hands up in the air as she insisted it was my father and I's job to put up all the decorations SHE bought!
Start a new tradition. Pick up a glass pickle ornament and hide it on the holiday tree. The first person to find it get's a special seasonal gift- this is great for holiday gatherings!
Of course I'm well into adulthood now, and run my own household- but I tend to like to micro-manage so much I could never sit back and direct while someone else takes all the guts and glory. I'm a hands on holiday enthusiast, and every year I institute a new tradition or two to the family lineup. A few years back, when we moved into the condo I adopted the 'Holiday Gherkin' tradition of hiding a glass pickle ornament on the (massive 10') tree. I like the tradition mainly because 1.) it's kitschy, 2.) it was long associated with my German heritage, despite and real connection, and 3.) who doesn't want to find a hidden pickle in hopes of receiving a reward?
Grab the FREE Instant Ornament gift tag printables and hang these on your tree with starbucks VIA Instant packets for guests to grab and brew an after meal drink!
This year, inspired by Momma's sentiments that 'anything is made better with a cup of coffee,' I've decided to integrate one of my favorite coffee house brands into our entertaining and celebrations. Last year we kept the Keurig out at a coffee station, where guests could serve themselves as they wished. It was something that worked well, but required guests to leave the action, and retire to the kitchen, to brew their after dinner beverage. This year I'll be keeping an electric kettle on coffee and dining tables, and I'll be adding a special touch to our holiday tree with Starbucks VIA and Instant selections in handmade Instant Ornaments.
FREE Instant Ornament Printable
Since our massive tree is the first thing you see when walking into our home it's the focal point of many seasonal gatherings. I've made these adorable little seasonal tags to tie to Starbucks VIA and Instant selections and hang on the tree. It's as simple as choosing warm beverage favorites such as Starbucks VIA Instant Pike Place Roast or Starbucks VIA Instant Caramel Latte packets, doubling over a piece of scotch tape across the top, and punching a hole through. Next, string a piece of decorative package twine through our labels and the makeshift hanger, and display on the tree for guests to take. This not only helps spark conversation over the decorations and ornaments on your tree, but also gets guests in the seasonal spirit! Grab the free Instant Ornaments Printable Tags here!
Make your own Pumpkin Spice flavoring when you combine 1 TBS Cinnamon, 3/4 TSP Ginger, 3/4 TSP Nutmeg, 1/4 TSP cloves, and 1/4 TSP All Spice.
Make flavored sugar by adding fresh mint to 1 C sugar and 2 TBS water.
Of course, even in SoCal, I rely on the flavors (okay, and most of the time caffeine) of warm beverages to keep me energized, motivated, and going this season. Our house is constantly stocked with our favorite warm beverage selections, from Starbucks Salted Caramel Hot Cocoa K-Cups to the Starbucks Anniversary Blend ground coffee I love to brew in my French Press. One thing they all have in common? Flavor! And one of the season's biggest flavors? Pumpkin Spice- which is exactly why I whipped up my own Pumpkin Spice flavoring, and was further inspired to make my own artisan sugar cubes for holiday gifts this year.
How to make homemade artisan flavored sugar cubes for entertaining and gifting.
If creating pumpkin spice magic sounds complicated to you, fear not- anything with a basic spice rack can whip up this flavor in seconds. Just combine 1 TBS ground cinnamon, 3/4 TSP Ground Ginger, 3/4 TSP Ground Nutmeg, 1/4 TSP Ground Cloves, and 1/4 TSP of All Spice. To make Pumpkin Spice Sugar cubes add the mixture to 1 C of white granulated sugar. Next, add 2 TBS of purified water and combine with a fork until fluffy, but gritty. Pack your sugar mixture into baking dish to about 1" height and allow the sugar brick to air dry overnight. Remove your flavored sugar brick and carefully cut into cubes, or break apart for a more rustic presentation. (Some people like that '2 sugar cubes' kinda thing, ya know?)
Bundle your favorite coffee in a mug with homemade sugar cubes for a seasonal gift that's sure to delight.Now through January 4, 2016, buy 3 qualifying Starbucks products and get a $5 Starbucks Card e-gift FREE! http://cbi.as/14chh (ad)
Because the process is so simple I played around with a few sugar cube variations. For one batch I added peppermint candy crumbles. For another I added fresh vanilla bean and lemon extract. For the final I combined fresh minced mint and vanilla bean (this was the most delicious but has a short shelf life due to the fresh/moist mint.) To make multiple batches at once I packed them all into a mini loaf pan with 8 individual compartments. This also made it easier to remove the loafs one at a time, rather than a giant sheet/brick of sugar.
Now through January 4, 2016, buy 3 qualifying Starbucks products and get a $5 Starbucks Card e-gift FREE! http://cbi.as/14chh (ad)
Now through January 4, 2016, buy 3 qualifying Starbucks products and get a $5 Starbucks Card e-gift FREE! http://cbi.as/14chh (ad)
For seasonal gifting I tied some Starbucks K-Cups together, or bundled Starbucks VIA Instant and Hot Cocoa varieties with a nice mug, tea spoon, fine linen napkin and a jar of my homemade sugar cubes. I was able to find all of my 'at home' and on the go Starbucks selections at our local Vons, though you'll also find Starbucks selections at stores such as Target and Walmart, too. I was tickled to discover there were so many delicious varieties and formats of my favorite Starbucks beverages. I dare say I picked up more than enough selections to fill my gift bundles and my own cupboards! There's even an exclusive promotion right now where you can claim a $5 Starbucks Card e-gift when you buy 3 participating Starbucks products at any retailer!
Coffee and Homemade sugar cube gift idea- Now through January 4, 2016, buy 3 qualifying Starbucks products and get a $5 Starbucks Card e-gift FREE! http://cbi.as/14chh (ad)
It may feel like the season is just beginning- but we've had our tree up for a week already- we always celebrate two Christmas gatherings (one in December and one on Thanksgiving when the East Coast family is in town.) For me, the season is in full swing, and I am more than prepared.  If any crotchety Bah Humbugs cross my way I'll be sure to point them toward the tree with a mug in their hand, where they're sure to find their own liquid smiles. I know I won't be letting my seasonal secret (tumbler) far from my hands as I play the doting host!  Discover more seasonal hosting ideas and festive serving ideas on the Starbucks Instagram page.
However you plan to tackle the holiday season, whatever your family's unique traditions, take a little inspiration from Jay and when the going gets tough, just 'Sip And Bear It.' And yes, that is his genuine reaction to having a fresh mug of coffee placed in his hand. Aren't I a wonderful woman? We just might have to look at switching him to caffeine free, or make him sign a waiver if he's planning on consuming more drinks this season! Ah, heck, you only live once, right? There's no turning back now- what are some of your tips and tricks to pull off the perfect holiday?

Get a $5 Starbucks Card e-gift when you purchase 3 or more qualifying Starbucks products.

What Daughter Says: Fuel the holidays with delicious beverages and delightful guests.

23 comments:

  1. I love that idea of using them as ornaments. What a fun way to fill some extra space on the tree.

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  2. First of all, love the hide the gerkin idea! And what a LOVELY gift idea, you are super creative and I'm pinning this to copy! I'm sure all of our daughter's teachers would LOVE this!

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  3. Those are so cute! Everything you made was so unique. I really love those cubes.

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  4. These are all great ideas. I love the sugar cubes!

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  5. That is just fun! Find a pickle in a tree. I love those kinds of things. That is what families remember most of all.

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  6. I love the Starbucks Coffee on the tree. This is too perfect for my husband who loves coffee.

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  7. I have never thought to make flavored sugar cubes, that is just so creative and they look fantastic. And the idea of creating ornaments with coffee for holiday parties is really neat. It would be fun for guests and definitely a conversation starter. Love that. #client

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  8. What cute ideas. I love the idea of hanging those Via packages. And flavored sugar cubes? That is genius. Thanks so much for sharing...

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  9. How cute. This is all so unique, I love the pickle.. that is really cute and fun! The sugar cubes are seriously the best thing I've seen in SO long! - Jeanine

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  10. Looks very warming. I could use a warming drink right now. I'm cold.

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  11. I would never in million years think of making my own sugar cubes. That is freaking brilliant!

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  12. I love the Starbucks as ornaments. And making your own sugar cubes is ingenious.

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  13. I love these ideas. You have such talent!

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  14. I would love to hide a pickle decoration on the tree. The kids would have fun looking for it. I think it is a great tradition.

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  15. I have never tried to make my own flavored sugar cubes before. It would be a great way to add flavor to your tea or coffee.

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  16. This is such an awesome way to bring the love of coffee to the holidays. Pretty much my whole family would like to have some Starbucks on Christmas day.

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  17. The sugar cubes look amazing! The printable is super cute.

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  18. I can't live without my coffee! The first thing I do every morning is fire up the coffee maker!

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  19. Ughh!!! I cannot even take how awesome this post is!!! It rocks on every single possible level, and I LOVE Starbucks too so that might add to it!!! Love the pickle too!!

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  20. I love your ideas! Especially the flavored sugar cubes. Those would be a bit hit in our house.

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  21. What a fun collection of holiday ideas. I love the pickle ornament tradition and those sugar cubes sound amazing, yet easy to make.

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  22. We love hiding our holiday pickle on our tree! ;) I just recently learned about that one actually a few years ago.,

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  23. I love those sugar cubes and the idea of turning those instant packs into ornaments is such a great idea! I will be using that this year at our Christmas party.

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